Kyrsten Sinema is an Arizona Trash Bag

Charming and heartfelt, from 2016 to 2020 the NBC sitcom The Good Place proved that a loveable dummy (Manny Jacinto), a self-involved approval seeker (Jameela Jamil), an anxious wreck (William Jackson Harper), and an “Arizona Trash Bag” (Kristen Bell) could work together, learn from one another, and, through their collective effort, (and with the help of an immortal demon and an all-knowing robot), save the world. 

But from 2018 to 2022, Kyrsten Sinema has proved the very opposite: an Arizona Trash Bag won’t act to save the world, because she’ll be too busy flagrantly taking up whatever position will get her the most headlines in the moment. Described very well in the above-cited Politico piece: for Sinema, the actual position she’s advocating doesn’t matter nearly so much as appearing to be a person of political relevance. “What exactly Sinema stands for appears to be less important. She voted against Donald Trump’s massive tax cuts but now refuses to raise tax rates on the wealthy and corporations; she says tackling climate change is a top priority but reportedly suggested slashing billions of climate dollars in Democrats’ sweeping social spending package (something her office denies).”

The documentation of this is basically unending:

Sinema’s shift: ‘Prada Socialist’ to corporate donor magnet – AP News

From Radical Activist to Senate Obstructionist: The Metamorphosis of Kyrsten Sinema – Mother Jones

Kyrsten Sinema is at the Center of it All. Some Arizonans Wish she Weren’t. – NY Times, which notes the growing fury among her AZ political base, and their intensifying calls for primary challengers to step up against her in 2024, writing “Ms. Sinema is facing a growing political revolt at home from the voters who once counted themselves among her most devoted supporters. Many of the state’s most fervent Democrats now see her as an obstructionist whose refusal to sign on to a major social policy and climate change bill has helped imperil the party’s agenda.”

On the one hand, the outrage Sinema’s currently facing among Progressives and even moderate Democrats over her refusal to entertain changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to pass critical voting rights legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—a refusal described by Mother Jones columnist Ari Berman as “preserving an asymmetry in rules that has allowed Republicans to systematically undermine fair elections over the past year but blocked Democrats from taking any action to stop them”—is not really so different than the outrage she faced from those same colleagues and constituents over “the curtsy.” It’s resulted in the same complaints: that she’s an obstructionist, an opportunist, and someone exclusively concerned with being seen in the spotlight, no matter the cost. 

So maybe she’s used to it. And maybe she really doesn’t care. That would track with The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg’s suggestion that she simply sees herself as mirroring the Maverick principles of her political idol, John McCain. In Goldberg’s estimation though, there’s more bluster than blood to that comparison. “​​When Sinema ran for Senate,” Goldberg writes, “the former left-wing firebrand reportedly told her advisers that she hoped to be the next John McCain, an independent force willing to buck her own party. Voting against a $15 minimum wage this year, she gave a thumbs down — accompanied by an obnoxious little curtsy — that seemed meant to recall the gesture McCain made when he voted against repealing key measures of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.”

But, Goldberg goes on, “people admired McCain because they felt he embodied a consistent set of values, a straight-talking Captain America kind of patriotism. […and] what really makes [Sinema] different from McCain is that nobody seems to know what she stands for.”And that’s the problem with Sinema. Even as it appears obvious that the voting rights legislation was DOA in the Senate anyhow, with or without Sinema’s dissent, and even as poll after poll shows that Sinema’s support in Arizona is crumbling, she felt the need to grandstand. To bask, obnoxiously and for all to see, in her power to be a political black hole. And so despite Kristen Bell’s work during the Trump Administration to show us what group compromise and a common goal could do to change the world, during the Biden Presidency fellow Arizonan Kyrsten Sinema is proving again and again that being a public Trash Bag is more important than helping her own constituents.

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